Ossabaw Island was a creative milestone for me.
Three years ago I attended my first writing retreat, Ossabaw Island Writers' Retreat on a remote barrier island named Ossabaw by the Native Americans, believed to mean, “Yaupon holly bushes place.” Come again?
The poisonous berries from these prevalent bushes were used to make a black water drink for rituals and to call forth visions.
The island has archaeological evidence of humans, dating as far back as 4,000 years. It is steeped in history and feels lost in time the second you step foot on it. Tabby buildings left behind mark what’s left of the living quarters the slaves inhabited, when there were working plantations. One of the clearings even hosted a colony of hippies in the 70s, named The Genesis Project.
Ms. West, the island’s remarkable one hundred and five year old matriarch no longer resides on the island, but she had the foresight and generosity to save this wild and beautiful slice of paradise when she sold it to the state of Georgia years ago. There are not enough words in the English language that might suffice in thanking her for saving this wonderful island.
The moment I set foot on the ferry at the Donegal Marina to return to Ossabaw, I was happy. A feeling of adventure, satisfaction and pure bliss overwhelmed my soul as we set forth on the water.
What is it about a certain geographical place that brings us back home?
It felt as if I’d never left when we tied up and I watched the palm studded shoreline emerge beyond the spray. My heart remained attached to its wildness and mystery.
In the bigger picture, it was never a single individual who rescued this island, although Ms. West is clearly its most public defender and champion. This place has an innate, sacred power well beyond one extraordinarily generous human, time or even money, a place that wishes to offer the serenity and wisdom our society so desperately needs.
There are wild animals that reside here; with alligators as an Apex predator holding the top of the food chain, feral pigs, donkeys, deer, snakes, and hundreds of bird species create a green, ecological paradise. It’s an incredible gift to wander the sandy roads and discover the animals in their natural habitats amid the Sage palmettos. I could hardly sleep when I discovered the sky studded with stars, a pale pink and effervescent indigo, alive with the tree canopy dancing below it in the coastal breeze.
The following day I awakened early and walked to the edge of land to watch the sun rise over the marsh and the river. I was rewarded with pale shades of lavender, lemon and petal pink ribbons rising above the mist covering the marsh. To be inspired by nature is nothing new for me, but this place tugs at my essence like very few connections I’ve ever experienced.
We spent the morning listening to writers offer their gifts and gave verbal feedback and community for their endeavors. Then the moment came that I was to co-teach with a woman who has challenged me, become my friend and also my mentor for over two years now.
Life rarely offers a moment when we can connect the dots and feel that we have truly accomplished something. This was one of those times and from out of nowhere I panicked and hid away alone in a bathroom to collect myself. Thinking for a second that I wasn’t worthy of anything, or what if I made a mistake and embarassed myself?
Perhaps a deep breath and belief is all any of us really need to take a brave step forward? Fake it till you make it, talk yourself off the ledge, all of these well-known phrases were bouncing around in my head like the ping pong balls in Captain Kangaroo. Time was up and I forced myself to act casual. Things went extremely well and afterwards, I crumpled into a pile like a paper doll.
To come to a point where I, the student might have something to say is huge. I won’t diminish the feelings of joy and victory that came flooding in after. There is something magical about that island I can't put my finger on. Even the ghosts acknowledged and remembered my energy from the last time I was there.
Life is so short; time is always tugging us away for the long sleep. But for today, I lift my heart and think that sometimes, the big things really are just that and it’s ok to find jubilance in a moment I never, ever expected to come. I am in a constant state of bewilderment by the challenges that keep coming, but also grateful as heck to Ms. Lenore Hart, Dr. Tony Morris, Mr. David Poyer, Ms. Danelle Jejune, and all the amazing and inspiring people I was fortunate to spend time with this past weekend. Sometimes life can be really cool.
Thanks so much for reading and allowing me to share my joy with you.
Until next time, find your peace, love, hustle, and then read or write. If you love nature and the Deep South, please consider reading my novel
Carolina Spirit. a beautiful, coming of age tale about finding your balance after losing a loved one.
Much Love, Bibiana
Soundtrack : Lights by the amazing Sappheiros @sappheirosmusic
Music provided by Free Music for Vlogs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzeQK45StRo